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Phinda mountain lodge lodge deck with sunset views 2400

Cape Town and KwaZulu Natal Self Drive Vacation

Inspirational self drive vacation to South Africa

For the more independent and adventurous traveler, with no compromise on luxury accommodation, this self-drive vacation is an exploration of Cape Town as well as South Africa's KwaZulu Natal province, including a Big 5 safari and a remote Indian Ocean beach stay. South Africa's mother city Cape Town is on full display in all its glory from the perfectly located One & Only Hotel. The views are exceptional, the rooms magnificent and the famous city sights, including Table Mountain, are all in proximity. When you have had your fill of wine, penguins, mountains, and culture fly to KwaZulu Natal's coastal city of Durban.

First stop, the Oyster Box Hotel, one of South Africa's most cherished and iconic hotels with remarkable coastal views, understated luxury and gracious hospitality. From here you will get on the road and journey north to the Big 5 private Phinda Reserve for your stay at Phinda Mountain Lodge. Partake in day and night Big 5 game drives and spend your downtime relaxing by the pool or enjoying meals under the endless African sky. For the final leg of your trip, you will travel further north, near the border with Mozambique to the area known as the Elephant Coast, one of the most remote in the country. It is a wild coastline of lush scenery and natural wonders. You will stay at Thonga Beach Lodge where you will enjoy a wide range of activities from snorkeling and scuba diving, to forest walks, fishing, birding, cultural visits and turtle tracking (in season). This is an extra special place of exquisite natural beauty. It will revive your senses and be the perfect end to a diverse and fun-filled holiday.

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Day by Day summary

  • Starts - Catch your overnight flight from JFK to Cape Town International
  • 4 nights - One & Only Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
  • 2 nights - The Oyster Box Hotel, Durban, South Africa
  • 4 nights - Phinda Mountain Lodge, Phinda Private Game Reserve, South Africa
  • 4 nights - Thonga Beach Lodge, Elephant Coast, South Africa
  • Ends - Transfer to Durban King Shaka for your international flight home

At a glance

  • Country Icon South Africa
  • Nights Icon 14 Nights
  • City Icon City
  • Beach Icon Beach
  • Safari Icon Safari

Tailormade itineraries

Every Mahlatini trip is custom created to your exact travel wishes – no readymade tours or set departures. Get in touch with our experts to start creating your bespoke itinerary.

Guide Price

Low Season from {: 8300|toCurrency :} per person
High Season from {: 9000|toCurrency :} per person

Includes flights from JFK
One and only cape town nobu sushi bar 1280
Phinda mountain lodge boma dinner 1280
Thonga beach lodge snorkelling experience 1280


  • At-your-own pace self-drive adventure
  • Fine dining, luxury rooms and personalized service
  • Big 5 game viewing in the Phinda Reserve
  • Cocktails and coastal sunsets at the Oyster Box Lighthouse Bar
  • Barefoot luxury on one of the worlds most beautiful and remote beaches
Itinerary Details


Catch your overnight flight from JFK to Cape Town International

One and only cape town nobu sushi bar 1280
One and only cape town wine tasting with a somelier 1280
One and only cape town vista bar overlooking table mountain 1280
One and only cape town nobu sushi bar 1280 Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Day 1 - 5

Arrive at Cape Town Airport where you will collect your hire car. From here you will drive yourself to your hotel in the V&A Waterfront.

  • 4 nights

One & Only Cape Town
Bed & Breakfast | Marina Table Mountain Room
South Africa

One and only cape town penthouse master bedroom 1280
The oyster box hotel presidential suite bathroom 1280
The oyster box hotel cinema room 1280
The oyster box hotel clock library 1280
The oyster box hotel presidential suite bathroom 1280 Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Day 5 - 7

Fly today from Cape Town to Durban. Collect your hire car and drive to your coastal hotel in Umhlanga Rocks.

  • 2 nights
  • Star Created with Sketch. Iconic

The Oyster Box Hotel
Bed & Breakfast | Classic Garden Facing Room
South Africa

The oyster box hotel penthouse main bedroom 1280
Phinda mountain lodge family cottage pool 1280
Phinda mountain lodge guest lounge area 1280
Phinda mountain lodge boma dinner 1280
Phinda mountain lodge family cottage pool 1280 Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Day 7 - 11

Take the +-3.5 hour drive today to Mountain Lodge at the Phinda Private Game Reserve. As you enter the games you will be game viewing on the way to the lodge.

  • 4 nights

Phinda Mountain Lodge
All Inclusive | Cottage
South Africa

Phinda mountain lodge guest suite bedroom 1280
Thonga beach lodge ocean view room pool deck 1280
Thonga beach lodge snorkelling experience 1280
Thonga beach lodge bar and lounge area 1280
Thonga beach lodge ocean view room pool deck 1280 Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Day 11 - 15

Travel +-2 hours today along the Elephant Coast towards your beach lodge at Mabibi.

  • 4 nights

Thonga Beach Lodge
Full Board | Forest View Room
South Africa

Thonga beach lodge beach lodge bedroom 1280

Day 15

Drive back to Durban Airport where you will drop off your hire car and connect with your onward flight home.

Make it yours

Tailormake this itinerary to your exact wishes

We've got you covered

Our trips are unashamedly high-end but always deliver excellent value for money. Our guide price covers the majority of trip costs upfront, on a per person basis, including international flights and all transfers.

Included icon


  • Accommodation as specified
  • Meals as specified
  • All scheduled safari activities offered by the camps or lodges
  • Car hire, group B car (Toyota Yaris or similar) including full cover, unlimited km and taxes
  • National Parks and conservation entry fees
  • Drinks (excluding premium brands) at Phinda Mountain Lodge
  • Carbon-offsetting with One Tree Planted
  • Conservation donation to Save the Rhino
  • Community projects contribution with Uthando
Not included icon


  • Gratuities
  • Personal travel insurance
  • Additional activities not offered as scheduled by the accommodation
  • Visas and visa fees where relevant
  • Petrol
  • Beverages with the exception of all inclusive hotels
Indulge your passions


This sample trip offers countless adventures and activities to ensure lifetime memories are made. From unforgettable thrills to indulgent relaxation, choose those that appeal most and we will curate your perfect itinerary.

  • Big 5 Safari Icon Big 5 Safari
  • Birdwatching Icon Birdwatching
  • Boat Trip Icon Boat Trip
  • Guided Walking Safari Icon Guided Walking Safari
  • Night Drive Icon Night Drive
  • Ocean Safari Icon Ocean Safari
  • Whale Watching Icon Whale Watching
  • Helicopter Flights Icon Helicopter Flights
  • Scenic Flights Icon Scenic Flights
  • Shark Diving Icon Shark Diving
  • Conservation Experience Icon Conservation Experience
  • Cultural Experience Icon Cultural Experience
  • Canoeing Kayaking Icon Canoeing/Kayaking
  • Cycling Icon Cycling
  • Fishing Icon Fishing
  • Golf Icon Golf
  • Hiking Icon Hiking
  • Snorkelling Scuba Diving Icon Snorkeling/Scuba Diving
  • Kids Club Icon Kids Club
  • Kids Bushcraft Icon Kids Bushcraft
  • Fly Camping Icon Fly Camping
  • Photography Safari Icon Photography Safari
  • City Sights Icon City Sights
  • Natural Wonders Icon Natural Wonders
  • Wellness Spa Icon Wellness/Spa
  • Wine Tour Icon Wine Tour
Enriching encounters


Whether you want to tick off the Big Five or encounter specific safari species and sea creatures on your safari and coastal stay, our expert guides reveal the typical wildlife sightings to expect on this sample trip.

  • Zebra
  • Wildebeest
  • White Rhino
    White Rhino
  • Spotted Hyena
    Spotted Hyena
  • Rock Hyrax
    Rock Hyrax
  • Orca
  • Lion
  • Leopard
  • Leatherback Turtle
    Leatherback Turtle
  • Kudu
  • Humpback Whale
    Humpback Whale
  • Hippo
  • Hawksbill turtle
    Hawksbill Turtle
  • Great White Shark
    Great White Shark
  • Elephant
  • Crocodile
  • Cheetah
  • Cape Fur Seal
    Cape Fur Seal
  • Buffalo
  • Bottlenose Dolphin
    Bottlenose Dolphin
  • Black Rhino
    Black Rhino
  • Baboon
  • African Fish Eagle
    African Fish Eagle
  • Southern Giraffe
  • African penguin
    African Penguin
  • Southern right whale
    Southern Right Whale
Sample Itineraries


From majestic wildlife to out of this world natural wonders, cultural melting pots and enchanting beaches, every bespoke Mahlatini journey is thrilling. Unsure where to visit? Whether it’s a bucket-list adventure, a milestone celebration or simply a much-needed escape, experience the joy with this inspiring selection of favorites.

  • Bespoke itineraries
  • Flights and transfers included
  • Best rates guaranteed

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Our travel experts are ready to start creating your tailormade trip.